Thursday, May 26, 2011

Writing a Scene

So how does a writer write a scene?

I know for me, I have to be inspired to sit down and write...anything! Right now I am polishing up scenes for the sequel to The Dragon Forest. The first draft was pretty easy since I had an outline, but once I went back and read through it, I realized some things were missing:

In the book, 101 Best Scenes Ever Written by Barnaby Conrad, he brings up the "5 C's".


and the "s":


Character-I found this book immensely useful in developing my scenes. Conrad forces you to take a look at your characters. Is your protagonist interesting? Is he/she a well developed character? Will the reader care about him/her?

For Peter, I wrote him as a 10 year old boy because that's how old my son was at the time I sat at the computer and wrote the book's first 10 chapters. I cared about Peter, so I wanted the reader to care about him.

Conflict-Conrad also stresses the importance of conflict. If all the characters are in agreement with one another, the story can get rather boring. I had to go back and add some conflict between my central characters in order to add another dimension to the story. I found it fun to write conflict. I have plenty in the sequel!

Choice is another element that is important. In the Harry Potter books, the protagonist has to make some tough choices. In the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbits have to make some very difficult choices...this element adds interest to your story. Put some hard choices into your story!

Change- Conrad mentions that your protagonist or even your antagonist must go through some sort of change from beginning to end. My story is a bildungsroman-type story where my protagonist is a young man who goes through a psychological and emotional change from beginning to end. The reader is privy to this change and it is up to the writer to make sure the reader is interested in what happens to your character.

Compassion- Conrad stresses the need for a character to have some sort of compassion for something in your story. Compassion is something your reader can identify with. If your main character has a lack of compassion for anything, that can be an interesting twist as well. Think No Country for Old Men! The antagonist had no compassion and that helped the reader believe the character all the more.

And finally, the "s" for Surprise. Surprise doesn't have to come at the end of a story as the final "ta da" moment. Adding surprise somewhere throughout the story can add that depth to your book you may be lacking. Causing a reader to stop and say, "Whoa! I wasn't expecting that twist!" will make your scene and your book memorable.

As for me, I am inspired by what I read or watch. Scenes from movies or books help me to develop plot twists and interesting elements to my characters. That's what I love about Conrad's book. He not only lists memorable scenes from books, but from film, and plays.

Although I have an outline for my book, I do tend to add scenes here and there if it helps the story move along or adds depth to the characters. Placing characters in harms way and then providing a way for them to escape is a great way to cause a reader to care about your characters.

Anyway, I hope you are inspired now to go and write that scene you've been putting off for days! If anything....just write something!

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